INCLINE VILLAGE, Nevada – After owning Tunnel Creek Café (with Flume Trail Bikes directly behind it) for nearly 11 years, husband and wife Max Jones and Patti McMullan knew to grow the restaurant and really operate it to its maximum potential. , he needed new energy in the kitchen – that meant taking the plunge and finding a chef to elevate the kitchen.
“We spoke to a number of people, but all of them were in good situations and didn’t want to leave,” Jones said.
That is, until he hooked up with Evan Roa, whose parents were friends of Jones and McMullan.
“Once my wife asked if home ownership or co-ownership could be part of the equation, everything changed,” Jones added. “We were looking to take a step back and although it was a very good thing, we are no longer young.”
Roa, who has spent the past 13-14 years cooking locally for places like Martis Camp, Brewforia and Big Water Grille, was roommates with Chad Burns who had worked in the restaurant business since college and really loved the atmosphere.
“We were cooking together at home and we were cooking together at Brewforia. We both have a passion for it,” Roa said.
The discussion, which began in October last year, evolved into Roa and Burns buying the restaurant outright. They were both hired as employees for about a month to learn how Jones and McMullan ran the restaurant and interact with the current staff. Then, on April 18 of this year, without missing an opening day, the new owners took matters into their own hands.
While the general concept of breakfast and lunch remains, Roa and Burns have collaborated on a new menu that emphasizes fresh seasonality and as much from scratch as possible. Everything from fermenting their own chilies, to making their own hot sauce, to making their own chili jelly or curing their corned beef at home, is literally on the table.
“Yesterday we smoked our own pastrami. We’re really excited to do things like that – have the basic menu and have fun on the side,” Burns said.
Food isn’t the only thing to change. The restaurant recently had its outdoor kitchen approved and granted a full liquor and cabaret license, setting the stage for, what they call, after biking.
“We call it that between us and it really speaks to the partnership with Max and Patti,” Roa said. “With all the trails, this place is awesome. The addition of live music and events will help make it a local spot and a great place to hang out in the afternoon.
“I’m really excited to elevate this place and take where Max and Patti have taken it, to a whole new level,” Burns added.
According to Roa, they have already booked private events where they will look to work out the details and have everything up and running by the summer. Plus, having the previous bike rental shop owners as neighbors they can collaborate with feels like a partnership destined to succeed.
Jones said: “We didn’t have the energy for the night activities. I felt like I was caught between two companies, but I really think these guys can continue to evolve and take it where we couldn’t.
Tunnel Creek Cafe is located at 1115 Tunnel Creek Rd, Suite A in Incline Village. For more information visit them online at tunnelcreekcafe.com or by phone at 775-298-2502.